Inequity, frustration drive Tour veteran Chris Stroud to play LIV Golf qualifier
There were a handful of names in the field for the LIV Golf Promotions event that stood out. Jason Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner, is the headliner along with former Ryder Cup players Victor Dubuisson of France and Jeff Overton.
But Chris Stroud’s commitment to the breakaway circuit’s first qualifying event was worth noting.
Stroud’s PGA Tour career spans 15 years and over 400 starts, including his lone victory at the 2017 Barracuda Championship. But an ailing back limited him to just 37 starts the last three years.
The Tour’s decision to not classify the Promotions event as “unauthorized,” like LIV events, prompted many players to consider the qualifier, which will award spots on LIV Golf to the top 3 players later this month at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But Stroud didn’t need any extra motivation; he’s seen enough.
“I’ve been frustrated with what the Tour’s done for years, since I was on the [Player Advisory Council]. The Tour doesn’t care about you if you’re not in the top 30 and I learned quickly that I needed to take care of myself,” Stroud told GolfChannel.com on Thursday. “The Tour has built this bad culture. I love [Tour commissioner Jay Monahan], but the Tour has never tried to give back to the players, we’ve never had a voice. So, Jay has had a free hand to do whatever he wants.”
Stroud, like many other players, went on to point out that next year’s signature-event format will heavily favor the upper-third of the Tour with only the top 50 from last year’s FedExCup points list assured starts in all the elevated events, which will reward considerably more points and prize money than “open” tournaments.
“I believe [Monahan] and a lot of people at the Tour genuinely care about us, but the system has never been set up to help the players,” Stroud said. “The Tour has taken all this extra money and not spread it out properly. I’ve talked to so many players about this and the answer is always, we need to be unionized.”
Stroud said he’s been in contact with players who have joined LIV Golf and he sees the format and lifestyle as a better alternative to the PGA Tour.
“I’ve learned this over 16 years on Tour, every single year I see more unhappy players — and players on LIV are happy. I talked to [LIV player] Marc Leishman today and he said the team aspect is fun but the coolest part is these people care about us,” Stroud said.
It remains to be seen what, if any, sanctions the Tour will impose on Stroud and the other members who didn’t obtain a media rights release to participate in the Promotions event and those players would also face a choice if they finish inside the top 3 in Abu Dhabi and earn status on LIV next year. But for Stroud, there’s really only one choice.
“I go straight to LIV,” he said. “Without question [give up his Tour status], even if it were just for one year it would be worth it because the Tour has done everything wrong. If they say I can’t be on the PGA Tour, that’s fine. I love the PGA Tour and what it stands for but I’m so unimpressed with how everything has transpired the last three years.”